Collective Consciousness at Burning Man

September 8, 2022
Experience & Engagement Team

Burning Man returned to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert this September after a three year hiatus due to the pandemic. Tens of thousands gathered in the temporary metropolis celebrating community, art, and self-expression.

The theme of this year’s festival was Waking Dreams. It explored the “transformative power of dreams, both literal and figurative, and celebrating the dreamers who channel this potent energy in eye-opening, often surrealistic, sometimes life-changing ways”.

This highly instragrammable event is known for spectacular structures and artistic installations with deep meaning. The Temple is a spiritual space where everyone can gather to share in the experience of remembering the past, honoring or cursing the present, and pondering the future to come. Many write letters to the departed, themselves, no one, or everyone, or express the otherwise inexpressible by bringing an object or offering to burn on Sunday night of Burning Man. Those who participate in this tradition often find that it works as a spiritual cleansing, a liberator of the mind, and a psychological release.

IONS Research at Burning Man Began a Decade Ago

From 2012 through 2016, scientists from the Institute of Noetic Sciences went to the Burning Man festival to explore the often reported subjective experience of an “energetic shift” during the two main ceremonies – the Man Burn and the Temple Burn. This reported feeling seems to be evoked when tens of thousands of people coherently focus on the same event. We wanted to learn more.

These exploratory experiments were designed to see if there is an impact during these peak moments of collective focus on the outputs of truly random number generators (RNGs). These RNGs were also measuring baseline readings before, during, and after these ceremonies. The combined results of the five experiments indicated that something other than random chance was impacting the RNGs during these two main events. Was it — as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars felt — a disturbance in the force?

We shared the details of our exploratory experiments in a Special Report entitled: Collective Consciousness at Burning Man.

At 24-pages there is a significant level of detail in the report, and some people have asked if we could provide an overview — specifically one that might help them explain the project to others who might be interested. Our chief scientist Dean Radin was happy to assist, and the result is this short video that gets to the heart of the matter.


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